Bengaluru FC wary of NEROCA challenge

Roca Expected To Ring In Changes As Blues Eye Place In Super Cup Semifinal

Bhubaneswar: Bengaluru FC will look to keep their seamless juggling act going when they square off against NEROCA FC for a place in the semifinal of the Super Cup, at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Friday.

The Blues beat Gokulam Kerala FC in the pre-quarterfinal before flying to Guwahati for a 3-1 AFC Cup win over Aizawl FC and back to Bengaluru for another continental fixture against New Radiant SC that was won in injury time. But Albert Roca brushed aside questions of fatigue ahead of a game he reckons will need a big effort from his boys against a team that was in the running for the I-League title.

“We are one of the best teams in the country and it means we have to compete in more competitions than most other teams, it’s as simple as that. I have to manage the squad, and the level of commitment from every one of my players makes that job a lot easier. We won’t have it easy against NEROCA who have shown us, in the I-League and in this competition, that they are a team with quality,” said Roca after the Blues put in a session at the Kalinga Stadium, on Thursday.

With an eye on a spot in the last four, the Spanish manager chose to rest a host of players including Udanta Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Juanan Gonzalez and Rahul Bheke for the game against New Radiant. Skipper Sunil Chhetri was a 70th minute change and made the difference with an assist for the winner. “Will I be playing a different squad from the one that beat New Radiant? I guess I will because it’s only normal to do so. There were boys on the bench who weren’t used and there were those who weren’t on the squad at all. I have a pool of names to choose from and that’s a nice position to be in,” he added.

Like Bengaluru, NEROCA too beat a team from Kerala to progress to the quarterfinal, but not without some late drama. Down two goals to David James’ Kerala Basters, the team from Manipur staged a remarkable second half comeback to win 3-2. “When you win a game like NEROCA did, you begin backing yourself heavily and we will have to be wary of that. They have some quality foreign signings and the Indian boys work really hard too. The margin for error is very little,” he added.

The Blues defence will be up against NEROCA’s front line led by Joachim Junior who made the switch from Chennai City at the end of the I-League campaign. The Frenchman will be the main target and along with Aryn Williams and Felix Chidi scored the goals in the second half against the Blasters.

The game kicks off at 4 pm IST and will be telecast on the Star Sports network, HotStar and Jio TV.

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